RFA Reports (July 2015)

2015-08-27
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(Washington, DC — Aug. 1, 2015) Radio Free Asia broadcast the following stories, and more, in July:

RFA Reports on a Uyghur exile’s escape from repression, torture

July 31 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on a Uyghur exile’s pursuit of a new life in Turkey after years of taunts and torture in China. The former political prisoner obtained a Chinese passport and escaped to Turkey, where he plans to spend the rest of his life.

RFA Reports on ethnic Montagnards seeking help for repatriation to Vietnam

July 31 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on 14 ethnic Montagnards asking Cambodian officials to assist them in being repatriated across the border to Vietnam. The group of Montagnards, a persecuted Christian minority group, had entered Cambodia from Thailand, where they had traveled to find work and flee persecution in their native Vietnam.

RFA Reports on criticism of China’s draft domestic violence law

July 30 – RFA Mandarin aired story [text in English/Mandarin] on feminists in China decrying a final draft law aimed at combating domestic violence as “cosmetic.” Chinese feminists are unconvinced that the bill would usher in meaningful change for women, while it would further extend police powers into the domestic realm.

RFA Reports on North Korean farmers defying government by keeping children home to work

July 30 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on some North Korean schools no longer offering classes amid growing absenteeism as farmers keep their children home to work in the fields.

RFA Reports on death of Vietnamese man in detention center

July 30 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a man serving a prison sentence for stealing a cell phone dying at a detention center. Authorities claim he died from an “illness,” but the victim’s sister says his body was in “terrible condition,” showing signs of severe beatings.

RFA Reports on Chinese campaign to tear down church crosses

July 29 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Chinese authorities pressing ahead with a demolition campaign targeting “illegal” Christian crosses. Government-backed gangs have destroyed crosses in several cities in what state media is calling a “building safety campaign.”

RFA Reports on concerns over jailed veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu amid political pressure

July 29 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on fears growing over the health of veteran Chinese journalist Gao Yu, who is serving a seven-year jail term for “revealing state secrets.” Gao, 71, was sentenced in April but she has repeatedly denied breaking Chinese law, saying that a televised "confession" on which the prosecution based its case was obtained under duress.

RFA Reports on Chen Guangcheng pressing for answers after jailed nephew’s release

July 29 – RFA Cantonese aired story [text in English/Cantonese] on the release of the nephew of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng after serving more than three years in a Chinese prison. The U.S.-based Chen vowed to press China to hold officials accountable for years of persecution of his family.

RFA Reports on Cambodia’s armed forces ‘belonging’ to the ruling party

July 29 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a four-star general saying that Cambodia’s armed forces “belong” to the ruling CPP party. General Chea Dara told military commanders the armed forces must serve Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP.

RFA Reports on Aung San Suu Kyi planning to contest November elections

July 29 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi announcing plans to run as a parliamentary candidate in national elections scheduled for November 8. The ruling USDP party said they see little chance of an overwhelming victory, as the opposition NLD party shows gains in strength.

RFA Reports on Cambodian opposition activist alleging attack, death threat

July 28 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on an activist with Cambodia’s opposition party accusing a former senior official with the country’s intelligence organization of making death threats against him. Rom Sarorn, an activist with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in Battambang province, alleges he was attacked and threatened by the former deputy commander of Division 52 in charge of Cambodia’s intelligence agency, at a local café.

RFA Reports on questions on detained Chinese lawyers’ whereabouts, well-being in crackdown

July 27 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the filing of a formal request to police to disclose the whereabouts and information on the well-being of detained Chinese rights lawyer Wang Yu. Wang is just one of at least 255 legal professionals targeted in China’s recent sweeping crackdown on legal professionals.

RFA Reports on Cambodian senate passing restrictive NGO law

July 24 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on Cambodia’s parliament passing a controversial law that lets the government regulate all NGOs operating inside the country. The law will restrict NGOs’ abilities to operate independently and effectively, activists say.

RFA Reports on pollution ruining local livelihoods in Laos

July 24 – RFA Laos aired story [text in English/Lao] on a copper mine polluting the local environment and destroying the livelihoods of residents in northern Laos. The mining was creating copper runoff in the water, ruining the water supply.

RFA Reports on North Korean army officer sent to prison camp

July 24 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on the head of a border guard unit being sent to a prison camp after trying to sell materials portraying life inside North Korea to Chinese nationals. His family and a soldier under his command were also punished because of North Korea’s “guilt by association” system.

RFA Reports on elusive Myanmar peace deal

July 24 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar’s government and armed ethnic groups failing to finalize a nationwide peace accord. The deal was snagged by disagreement over the exclusion of six rebel groups and ethnic-proposed amendments.

RFA Reports on Tibetan political prisoner dying in custody

July 23 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan political prisoner dying after being held in custody for 14 months. The village chief had been held for his role in protests against a Chinese gold mine. Sources indicated he died “due to severe beatings in the prison.”

RFA Reports on Chinese officials paying Uyghurs in Pakistan for dirt on activists

July 23 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Chinese consulate officials in Pakistan distributing money to Uyghurs in exchange for information about activists campaigning against Chinese rule. In one instance, Chinese consulates held events to mark the end of Ramadan and offered money to local Uyghurs who provided them with “assistance.”

RFA Reports on Russian goods replacing Chinese products in local North Korean markets

July 22 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on Russian products, including food and medicine, rapidly replacing Chinese goods at North Korea’s black markets.

RFA Reports on Myanmar court finding journalists guilty of defamation

July 21 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on a Myanmar court finding two journalists guilty of defaming President Thein Sein. The two journalists were fined one million kyat (U.S. $855) each, in a ruling that many see as yet another example of the country backsliding on relatively recent media freedoms and free speech gains.

RFA Reports on Chinese authorities stealing back deceased monk’s ashes

July 20 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese authorities forcibly taking the ashes of deceased monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche from Tibetans carrying his remains to his home. The revered monk had been cremated by Chinese authorities in prison, in defiance of his family’s wishes.

RFA Reports on Chinese villagers calling for relocation after massive chemical blast

July 20 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a massive hydrogen explosion at a chemical plant in a village in Shandong province causing widespread and extensive damage to homes and property. Terrified villagers are asking to be relocated farther away from the plant after the blast.

RFA Reports on unprecedented military downsizing in North Korea

July 20 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on North Korea’s military discharging a vast number of soldiers amid a drastic reduction in the army. The widespread discharge included only infantry, not technicians or specialists.

RFA Reports on deceased Tibetan monk’s family members detained

July 17 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on Chinese police detaining the sister and niece of deceased monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, who died in unexplained circumstances in a Chinese prison. It is suspected that they were detained for having shared information related to the death of Rinpoche with other people.

RFA Reports on rise of Chinese propaganda chief

July 17 – RFA Mandarin and Cantonese aired story [text in English/Mandarin/Cantonese] on the ruling Chinese Communist Party promoting a Guangdong propaganda official whose reported rewriting of a New Year front page editorial in the cutting-edge magazine Southern Weekend prompted a strike and days of protests in early 2013. Tuo Zhen, 59, who is believed to have revised the magazine's editorial calling for constitutional government and political reform, was named deputy propaganda minister, his first Beijing post.

RFA Reports on Lao governor’s controversial land concession

July 15 – RFA Laos aired story [text in English/Lao] on the governor of Luang Prabang being reassigned to a central ministry post, a move meant to shield him from criticism over a controversial land concession he granted to Chinese investors. Authorities previously detained a whistle-blower who had posted information about the deal on social media.

RFA Reports on severe drought in Cambodia taking toll on women, children

July 13 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a severe drought in Cambodia prompting concerns it will deepen poverty. Women and children are especially being impacted, experts and officials worry, as the effects of the nationwide drought intensify.

RFA Reports on Vietnamese protester run over by bulldozer

July 10 – RFA Vietnamese aired story [text in English/Vietnamese] on a 54-year-old Vietnamese woman sustaining serious injuries after being pinned by a bulldozer. She and fellow farmers were protesting the government’s confiscation of their farmland in northern Vietnam.

RFA Reports on sixth Tibetan self-immolation this year

July 9 – RFA Tibetan aired story [text in English/Tibetan] on a Tibetan monk setting himself on fire in an apparent challenge to Beijing’s rule. The burning brings to 142 the total number of self-immolations by Tibetans since 2009.

RFA Reports on China’s restrictive draft online security law

July 9 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on a draft cybersecurity law that would further tighten Beijing’s grip on the Internet in China. The draft law codifies measures allowing authorities to cut Internet access in response to social unrest, among other restrictions on digital free expression among Chinese citizens.

RFA Reports on Thailand repatriating Uyghurs to China over international objections

July 9 – RFA Uyghur aired story [text in English/Uyghur] on Thailand forcibly repatriating nearly 100 Uyghurs to China. The United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees said it was “shocked” by the move, calling it “a flagrant violation of international law.”

RFA Reports on homeless detained in preparation for public ceremonies

July 8 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on homeless and mentally ill Cambodians being rounded up and detained without cause in poor conditions. Authorities rounded up the detainees ahead of two state ceremonies.

RFA Reports on Hong Kong charging four pro-democracy student activists over recent demonstration

July 7 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on Hong Kong authorities charging four pro-democracy activists after staging a demonstration outside a Chinese government liaison office. Students, including Occupy Central leader Joshua Wong, burned Beijing’s “white paper” on the “one country, two systems” arrangement under which it rules Hong Kong.

RFA Reports on Lao woman charged after posting photos on Facebook

July 7 – RFA Laos aired story [text in English/Lao] on a young woman being detained after posting a photo on Facebook. The photo allegedly showed police officers extorting money from her brother during a traffic stop.

RFA Reports on Myanmar parliament approving controversial interfaith marriage law

July 7 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on Myanmar lawmakers passing controversial legislation that imposes restrictions on interfaith marriages. The law requires Buddhist women and men who intend to marry outside their faith to register their intent to marry with local authorities.

RFA Reports on fainting factory workers in Cambodia

July 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on the growing number of Cambodian garment factory workers fainting from overwork and harsh workplace conditions. Over a period of four days, at least 100 workers had fainted due to lack of food, exhaustion, and exposure to chemical odors.

RFA Reports on Cambodian MP blocking press briefing on NGO law

July 2 – RFA Khmer aired story [text in English/Khmer] on a lawmaker from Cambodia’s ruling party barring an opposition MP from addressing the media. The National Assembly spokesman shut down a press briefing about opposition concerns over a controversial NGO draft law.

RFA Reports on arrests in Myanmar signaling resistance to reform

July 2 – RFA Myanmar aired story [text in English/Myanmar] on worries among human rights observers that Myanmar’s government is unwilling to make real progress toward democratic reform, given recent arrests of demonstrators and activists. On July 1, authorities charged five Burmese student leaders who had led a peaceful protest against military control of the country’s parliament.

RFA Reports on skyrocketing number of mobile subscribers in North Korea

July 1 – RFA Korean aired story [text in English/Korean] on a dramatic decrease in the monthly rate for cell phone services causing the number of subscribers to skyrocket. The cost of using a cell phone dropped from 25 yuan (U.S. $4) to a maximum of 1 yuan (U.S. $0.16), though massive overage fees have led many to sign up for two mobile phones, possibly skewing the data.

RFA Reports on tens of thousands marching in Hong Kong for democracy

July 1 – RFA Cantonese and Mandarin aired story [text in English/Cantonese/Mandarin] on more than 40,000 people taking to the streets of Hong Kong on the anniversary of the city's 1997 handover to Chinese rule. Crowds braved sweltering heat to march through the streets of the former British colony, sometimes chanting "No to fake universal suffrage!"

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